Orwell Bible Church

Blog

Deuteronomy 4 – Know, Obey, and Fear the Lord

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Having established Israel’s recent history, Moses transitions to God’s laws which were essential to his covenant with Israel.

Israel must listen to Moses’s teaching of the Law, for obedience is necessary for living in the land. Obedience brings life, disobedience brings death (1–4). Obedience was essential for wisdom and understanding; merely having and knowing the Law was insufficient, but walking in wisdom would make them like no other nation (5–6).

Indeed, what set Israel apart from every other nation was their God, who appeared and spoke to them, whom they could speak to in prayer and be heard, and who gave them good and righteous statutes so they would fear him (7–14).

Consequently, Moses warned Israel of the great danger of worshiping according to their feelings and own ideas, for that would result in idolatry and corruption (15–24). Moses foretold that the time would eventually come when Israel would corrupt their way and God would destroy and disperse them. Yet because God is merciful and faithful, he would deliver them when they called for help (25–31).

Moses concluded his message by pointing Israel to the fact that there is no God like the Lord who created mankind, spoke from the fire, and redeemed a nation by great miracles. Israel saw this so they would know the Lord. God let them hear his voice. God loved the patriarchs and chose to bless them and their descendants. Therefore, Israel must know there is no other God, and determine to obey him all their days (32–40).

While on the east side of the Jordan Moses appointed three cities of refuge, one in each of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh (41–43).

Note:

  1. God’s Word must continually be taught to know and obey it. No one innately knows God’s truth.
  2. Obedience is essential to wisdom. Merely knowing facts is insufficient. A great many fools are very smart.
  3. The majority of humanity are spiritually ignorant, corrupt, and idolatrous. The only reason some are not is because God loved them despite their sinfulness and enabled them to know and love him. The knowledge of the Lord separates God’s people from the world
  4. God cannot be known or feared apart from his revealed Word.
  5. God’s election is based solely on his distinguishing love. Faith and obedience are the evidence and results of God’s love.
  6. Worship that is driven and controlled by human feelings is anti-God and idolatrous.

Deuteronomy 3 – Strengthening Faith

Moses concluded his historical review as part of his introduction to renewing the covenant between the Lord and Israel. Following Israel’s total destruction of Sihon, the king of Bashan, Og, attacked them. Before the battle the Lord assured Moses of total victory, just like they experienced over Sihon. Moses and Israel should not then fear Og and his mighty empire but utterly destroy them, which they did. No matter how stout and skilled the attacker or how well fortified and defended the empire’s 60 cities were, all were completely annihilated.

These conquered territories were then given to the Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh as their inheritance.

Moses exhorted and encouraged his successor, Joshua, that just as God defeated these pagan kingdoms so he would do to every Canaanite nation. Joshua should therefore not be intimidated by the Canaanites, because the battles would not be won by Israel, but by the Lord God himself.

All this greatly affected Moses. The Lord had only begun to show his greatness and mighty power, evidences of his being the one true and living God who does whatever he pleases. Moses thus asked the Lord to be able to cross the Jordan and see the promised land, but God expressly forbade it and told Moses not to ask about that again.

Note:

  1. God directs circumstances that believers would not seek, in order to strengthen their faith. Sihon and Og attacked Israel, Israel did not take the initiative to attack them, and that was by God’s doing. Seeing God do what he said he would do encourages and strengthens faith and then compels faith driven initiative.
  2. There are some things you don’t need to and shouldn’t pray about. While God’s promises are and should be the fuel and content of prayers, whatever he prohibits should not be prayed for.

Deuteronomy 2 – It Begins

Moses continued his historical account of Israel in the wilderness. Israel left its 38-year cycle of circling in the desert after everyone of the first generation died. As Israel approached Canaan God forbade their attacking Edom, Moab, and Ammon because of their relation to them. Indeed, Israel was to pay these countries for any food or water they used.

As Israel made their way through those countries God caused the various Canaanite nations to be absolutely terrified of Israel. Consequently, though Moses peacefully asked permission of Sihon to pass through their land, Sihon absolutely refused and came out to destroy Israel. Unlike the account in Numbers which simply relates the historical details, here Moses provides the fuller perspective. Despite the terror at the coming Israelites (v. 25), Sihon and his people were bound and determined to fight Israel to the very last of them. This determination was entirely theirs because God hardened his heart, letting Sihon fully go the way of a sinful heart. Consequently the Lord delivered them all into Israel’s hand.

Lord’s Day Service, May 31, 2020

Today’s message from Romans 16:3-16 can be viewed on our YouTube page or listened to and downloaded in mp3 format. Please contact us if you have questions or something we can pray for!

Information about giving offerings is here.

Deuteronomy 1 – Travel, Tribunals, and Trouble

Two months before Israel crossed the Jordan to enter the promised land (Josh 4:19) and one month before his death (Deut 34:8) Moses spoke several times to Israel renewing the covenant they had with the Lord, explaining to them the law of their God.

Moses began by reviewing Israel’s history from Horeb (Mt. Sinai). They were to leave Horeb for the land God promised them as descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

To enable timely consideration of various issues a series of administrative judges were appointed. Such were to be men who not only had knowledge and understanding but the maturity and ability to correctly and impartially apply God’s law to various circumstances (“wisdom”).

Moses then detailed Israel’s failure at Kadesh Barnea. Instead of believing the Lord they believed the assessment of 10 men who did not believe the Lord. They did not believe God would protect them and that they would die in the attempt. Israel said their problem was insurmountable odds; God said their problem was unbelief. Consequently God treated them according to their expectation: All of that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, would die, not by the Canaanites in the promised land, but in the wilderness because of their unbelief.

Note:

  1. Accurately explaining God’s Word requires understanding its historical background and circumstances.
  2. Israel needed to know their history and learn from it, specifically what happens when God is or is not believed and trusted.
  3. Correctly evaluating human behavior requires godly judgment.
  4. Unbelief judges God’s promises by human assessment of present and possible circumstances.

Numbers 36 – Making Decisions by God’s Revealed Will

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

In the sovereignty of God, Zelophehad, of the tribe of Manasseh, had no sons, only daughters. As land would pass from father to son, this posed a problem which was solved in chapter 27 (his daughters would receive the inheritance). There were still some remaining unknowns amid God’s declared will (vv. 2, 4). If Zelophehad’s daughters married men from other tribes, then by the inheritance laws the land they inherited would go to the other tribe to which they were joined by marriage.

Thus, leaders from Manasseh brought this issue to Moses and Israel’s leaders for direction. Moses agreed with their assessment of the situation and relayed God’s will for these women: They must marry men from their own tribe so the inherited land remained within their tribe. These women could “marry whom they thought best,” but within the boundaries of their own tribe. This freedom to choose a husband had to be controlled by God’s revealed will.

Zelophehad’s daughters complied, choosing husbands from within their tribe, and the land they inherited from their father remained within their family.

There seems to have been some growth among Israel from the first generation–instead of murmuring and rebelling against the Lord and his appointed leaders, they brought the issues forward and submitted to their direction (27:1-2; 32:12; 36:1).

Note:

  1. God’s wisdom must be sought to know how to apply his commands to life. There can and will be questions about how to apply God’s commands, even seeming conflict. Such are never solved by man’s wisdom, only and always by the Lord’s.
  2. God provides spiritual leadership to help learn and know how to live according to God’s will. When there are difficulties, bring them to God ordained leadership, rather than act as you think best. Furthermore, God ordained leadership must counsel and act according to God’s word.
  3. Personal choices must be governed by God’s revealed will. Zelophehad’s daughters had the ability/freedom to marry husbands they believed were best for them, as long as such were from the tribe of Manasseh. God’s revealed will must direct and control the decisions we make, so that God’s desired ends are accomplished.

Numbers 35 – Provision, Protection, and Punishment

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Instead of each Israelite’s firstborn being devoted to God, the Lord chose the tribe of Levi (3:11-13). Consequently they did not receive any land but would be scattered throughout Israel, enabling their various teaching and other responsibilities in the theocratic kingdom. Accordingly each tribe was to give four cities for Levites to dwell in (for a total of 48 cities) as well as common land for their various animals. Israel was responsible for including and caring for the Levites (cf. Deut 12:12, 18-19) because of their essential ministry.

Israel was also to set aside six cities of refuge, three on each side of the Jordan River. Killers–whose guilt or innocence had yet to be determined–could go to such cities for protection from avengers until a proper trial could be held by the congregation. If the killer left the city of refuge he could be executed by the victim’s nearest relative who was responsible for doing so (v. 19). The killer needed to stay there until the high priest died, after which he was free to go back to his home.

At his trial there needed to be at least two witnesses to render a death sentence. One witness was insufficient. Guilt or innocence was determined by whether or not the death was intentional or accidental. If the accused was found guilty he must be put to death no matter who he was or where he was from.

Moreover, no amount of money should be accepted to buy the guilty murderer’s freedom. The only acceptable payment for murder was the death of the murderer (cf. Gen 9:6). Allowing murderers to escape justice would pollute, desecrate, and defile the land where the Lord himself dwelt. Indeed, he dwelt “among and in the midst of the children of Israel.”

Note:

  1. God’s ministers must be cared and provided for. Such is in everyone’s best interests. The laborer is worthy of his hire.
  2. God’s laws express his attribute of righteousness. Ignoring them offends his very nature and character.
  3. True justice is rooted in and expressive of God’s righteousness. It is carried out on the basis of established fact. It is not to be thwarted.

Numbers 34 – Israel’s Land Inheritance from the Lord

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

The Lord had just commanded Israel to destroy the Canaanites, “for I have given you the land to possess” (33:53). He then briefly noted they would divide the land by lot as an inheritance among their families (33:54).

Thus here the Lord prescribed in detail the borders of Israel’s inheritance before they ever set foot on the land or drew their swords. The limits of the land on all four geographic sides are specifically noted by existing cities as well as various seas and rivers.

Hundreds of years beforehand God called Abram to leave his people and homeland. God promised Abram he would make his descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth. God also promised him all the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession–all that he saw there and walked upon: “I give to you and your descendants forever” (Gen 12:17; 13:14-17). This same promise was repeated to Isaac (Gen 26:3), Jacob (28:13; 35:12; 48:4), and then to Moses and Israel (Exod 3:8; 6:6-8). The Lord guaranteed this promise by committing himself to it: “I am the Lord,” (Exod 6:8). And here Israel stands on the east side of the Jordan, a nation, ready to receive what God promised them (“inheritance”).

The Lord appointed Israel’s leaders, Eliezar the priest and Joshua, as those who would divide the land for the 9½ tribes who had not yet received their inheritance.

Note:

  1. God’s promises are always precisely fulfilled exactly as he said. Their truthfulness are not established by how quickly they are fulfilled but by the timeless God who made them. We must believe everything God has promised exactly as he has promised them. Anything less is doubt and denial. This encourages believers today that he will precisely fulfill every yet unfulfilled promise.
  2. God promised Canaan to Abraham’s descendants forever. While Israel would fail to conquer the Canaanites because of their unbelief and disobedience, that would not thwart God’s promises and plan. Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning Israel’s future detailed the same territorial borders as given in Numbers 34 (Ezek 47:13-23). “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable,” (Rom 11:29).
  3. Christians should not spiritualize the Abrahamic land promises to make them applicable today. Rather, Christians should be encouraged that God will precisely fulfill every promise and so believe what he says.

Numbers 33 – God’s Faithfulness Compels Faithfulness

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

God instructed Moses to record the various places Israel traveled from Egypt to the edge of the Jordan. Moses provides one date, the day they left Egypt, and with only three exceptions wrote simply the locations of their travel.

The first exception was Israel’s departure from Egypt. Israel did not sneak away, they left openly and orderly as a conquering army while the Egyptians were burying their first born whom the Lord killed. The Egyptian plagues not only enabled Israel’s departure from Egypt, but through them the Lord judged Egypt’s gods, showing them to be false and impotent.

The second incident addressed in Israel’s itinerary was Israel’s passage through the Red Sea which is simply noted: “They passed through the midst of the sea.”

The third noted event was Israel’s lack of water at Rephidim about a month after leaving Egypt. This also is simply noted: “There was no water for the people to drink.”

This is a review sketch of Israel’s starting and stopping points from Egypt to the Jordan. Exodus-Numbers fills in the historical details, and Deuteronomy also provides such a review but also delves into the why of their experiences (cf. Deut 8:3ff).

Following this travel itinerary the Lord through Moses gave Israel specific instructions to utterly destroy everything related to Canaanite people and religion. No Canaanites were to be allowed to remain; Deuteronomy specifies they were to be completely annihilated. God gives three reasons for this systematic destruction of every Canaanite and every aspect of Canaanite culture:

  1. The land was not theirs but the Lord’s, v. 53.
  2. Any remaining Canaanites Israel allowed to remain would continue to be a pain and problem to Israel, v. 55.
  3. As Israel cohabited with Canaanites they allowed to live, Israel would take on Canaanite depravity and idolatry, so that God would judge Israel just as he did the Canaanites, v. 56.

Note:

  1. Reviewing history should focus on God’s provision, direction, and protection to encourage faithfulness to him. God’s faithfulness compels faithfulness.
  2. There is only one God, and he is the Lord God of Israel, the God of the Christian Scriptures. All others are created by men and demonically empowered and directed. The Lord will be vindicated. “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, nor my praise to graven images” (Isa 42:8).
  3. Human hearts, lives, and worship must be directed toward the Lord, and wholly characterized and controlled by his character and commands. He destroys what is not and is glorified only by what is.
  4. There can be no peaceful fraternity between the godless and the godly. 2 Cor 6:14-7:1; Eph 5:3-7; 1 John 5:21
  5. Compromise always disobeys and dishonors the Lord, corrupts true religion, and troubles the saints.

Numbers 32 – A Potentially Disastrous Situation

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Having conquered Sihon and Og on the east side of the Jordan, the tribes of Reuben and Gad declared their desire to settle there as it was good for their livestock. They gathered Israel’s leadership and informed them of their desires and intent.

Moses immediately recoiled at the idea. He told them that by not going over the Jordan with their brethren to help conquer Canaan, Israel’s hearts would be discouraged, just like at Kadesh Barnea 40 years earlier. Because that generation did not wholly follow the Lord, his anger was aroused and they perished. This current situation seemed to be a sad repetition with the same sad result.

Happily, Gad and Reuben said that was not their intent. They would prepare places for their children and livestock and then cross the Jordan and fight alongside their brethren until each received their inheritance, doing exactly as Moses commanded.

Moses agreed with this, but since he would die before Israel crossed the Jordan he informed Joshua, Eliezer, and Israel’s elders of this, adding that if Reuben and Gad did not cross over they would instead be settled in Canaan. Moses warned Reuben and Gad that if they did not do as they said, “be sure your sin will find you out” (v. 23).

Reuben and Gad then moved in to the territories formerly belonging to Sihon and Og, fortifying and building as needed. Half the tribe of Manasseh joined them, receiving territory north of Reuben and Gad. This area had not yet been conquered, but the Amorites there were swiftly defeated.

Note:

  1. The difference between judgment and blessing is faith and obedience. At Kadesh-Barnea the people rebelled and sought to kill Moses, Joshua, and Caleb (14:10) and all those rebels died. Here Reuben and Gad willingly submitted and committed themselves to obey (32:25).
  2. Sound wisdom and direction for the present and future comes from God’s revealed will. People and circumstances will be different, but the cause of the Lord and how he says it should be accomplished do not.
  3. Wisdom learns from the past for faithful obedience in the present.
  4. God’s people must be unified to do God’s work in God’s way. When there is division because of disobedience and doubt there will be discouragement and defeat.
  5. It is entirely right to warn of the dangers of deception and the Lord’s sure judgment.

Lord’s Day Service, May 24, 2020

Today’s message from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 can be viewed on our YouTube page or listened to and downloaded in mp3 format. Please contact us if you have questions or something we can pray for!

A basic outline of the message can be downloaded here.

Information about giving offerings is here.

Numbers 31 – God’s Vengeance on the Enemies of His People

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Picking up from 25:17-18, the Lord instructed Moses to destroy the Midianites for their efforts to destroy Israel. Moses did not command the entire army of 601,730 Israelite men of war for the task but only 12,000; 1,000 from each tribe. Phineas the priest led them–appropriate given his role in destroying the Midian scheme against them (25:6-15). The result was a complete, dominating victory over Midian’s five kings, killing every man among them, including Balaam, who had continued with them.

The spoils of war were presented to Moses, Eliezar, and all Israel. Moses reproved the officers for letting all the women live, for through their sensual seduction to immorality they were the means of Israel’s trouble at Peor. Moses thus commanded their deaths as well, fulfilling God’s vengeance against Midian.

Instructions were given for purifying of the army and the plunder. The plunder was divided among the men of war and Israel, with tribute offerings given to the Lord.

Last, the army officers gave a special tribute offering to the Lord to praise and thank him, for not one Israelite warrior died.

Note:

  1. The Lord punishes those who trouble his people.
  2. God always fulfills his promises. He promised Israel none would stand against them in battle, and that a small handful of Israelites would put an army to flight (Lev 26:8).
  3. God versus the world is never a fair fight. Victory belongs to the Lord.